INTERNATIONAL: Review sees Fine Gael set up in-house PR chief post

DUBLIN: Ireland's main right-wing opposition party Fine Gael has created its first in-house chief of PR post and is considering assembling an external agency roster as part of an extensive PR audit.

Interim head of comms Rachel Dalton has led the sweeping review, taking the brief over from former head of press and PR Niall O'Muilleoir, who left in August to join the Irish operations of City PR network Financial Dynamics International.

Dalton said findings of the two-month audit were presented earlier this month, leading to the creation of a director of comms post.

Other changes are also in the pipeline, regarding staff and strategy.

Fine Gael has hired headhunters Merc Partners to recruit for the top PR post, with a view to getting someone on board as soon as possible.

'One of the findings of the audit was that we needed to have one single person controlling internal communications, media relations and PR,' said Dalton.

The party scrapped its director of comms and policy post - which existed outside the in-house PR department - last September after Brian Looney's sudden departure (PRWeek, 14 September, 2001). He quit after just six weeks in the role.

Dalton added the party is also looking to boost the PR team from five to at least seven, with the introduction of a campaign strategist and internal comms head. The audit also recommended the introduction of an agency roster.

Dalton said the party, headed by Enda Kenny, faces some tough comms challenges following its defeat in this year's elections: 'We need to have an aggressive communications strategy moving forward and help rebuild credibility with the media.'

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